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School of Teacher Education

School of Teacher Education

Liberal Studies
SDSU Liberal Studies

Glossary of Terms

On this page: Find definitions of various terms relating to the Liberal Studies program.

Advance to the major

After you have completed all pre-major requirements, you must officially declare the Liberal Studies major in order to advance to the major. Moving to the major does not happen automatically. Learn how to move from pre-major to major.

Advising sheet

After declaring your major, you will use an advising sheet to guide your way through the degree program. Each sheet details all upper-division coursework necessary to complete the emphasis, with suggested course sequence for junior and senior years. Find all advising sheets in Forms and Documents.

Aztecs Abroad

Aztecs Abroad is the SDSU study abroad tool. The first step to researching Study Abroad is to complete your study abroad profile at the Aztecs Abroad database. Once your profile is complete, you can begin searching to find the right International Experience program for you. Learn more.


Blackboard allows students to contact their instructor, receive and submit assignments, participate in discussion groups, and much more. Learn more.


The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)  assesses the skills of writing, reading, and math for potential educators. You must pass the CBEST before graduating with a BA in Liberal Studies if you want to enter a credential program post-graduation. Learn more.

Certificate of Clearance

The Certificate of Clearance is a document issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to an individual who has completed the Commission's fingerprint character and identification process, whose moral and professional fitness has been shown to meet the standards as established by law. See College of Education information about the Certificate of Clearance. For assistance, see an advisor in OSS.

College of Education (COE)

SDSU's College of Education prepares professionals for roles in schools, postsecondary institutions, social service agencies, and vocational rehabilitation organizations. COE is organized into 7 academic units including the School of Teacher Education, of which Liberal Studies is a program. Link to COE.


A teaching credential is a state-issued license to teach in a public school. California law requires all teachers in CA public schools to hold a valid teaching credential. Learn about SDSU credential programs.


The California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) assesses a prospective teacher’s knowledge of the subject matter she or he will teach in the classroom. You must pass the CBEST before graduating with a BA in Liberal Studies if you want to enter a credential program post-graduation.  Learn more.

Declare your major

See "Advance to the major," above.

Degree Audit Report (DAR)

The Degree Audit Report is available through WebPortal. It shows the classes you have taken, as well as the remaining classes you still need to take, before you can apply for graduation. For the first semester that students attend SDSU, the Degree Audit Report is available only at the SDSU Academic Advising Center and not through WebPortal. If you meet with Michelle Xiong during your first semester at SDSU, please bring a copy of your Degree Audit Report to your meeting.


DLE stands for Dual Language & English Learner Education. Link to the DLE department in the College of Education.


EBA is short for the Education and Business Administration building (see map).


EFE stands for Early Field Experiences. See Fieldwork.


Those who major in liberal studies with the B.A. degree in applied arts and sciences may choose to specialize in one of the following emphases:

  • Emphasis in education-generalist
  • Emphasis in elementary education
  • Mathematics emphasis
  • Science emphasis
  • ITEP emphasis (new 4-year program to become available beginning 2018)

Learn more about the emphasis.


There are courses offered throughout the major that will give you experience in local schools or via video. Students observe teaching and learning at multiple grade levels and in multiple environments (e.g., general and special education). Learn more about fieldwork.


As a Liberal Studies major, you will choose to specialize in either literacy, mathematics, or science. Learn more about the focus.

Impaction criteria

These are criteria that students must meet in order to advance to the major (declare yourself as a Liberal Studies major). Before you can advance to the major, you must fulfill a number of preliminary requirements, known as impaction criteria. Until you have completed these steps, you remain in pre-major status, preparing yourself to be ready for the major. Learn more about impaction criteria.

International Experience Requirement

Since 2011, Liberal Studies majors must fulfill an international experience (a.k.a. study abroad) requirement. This requirement is fulfilled through completion of an international experience course of 1 or more units. Possibilities range from a multi-day experience to a semester or even a year abroad. Students may participate in experiences arranged specifically for Liberal Studies or may choose from myriad other opportunities. Learn more about the International Experience Requirement.

Introductory Subject Matter Authorization (ISMA)

The ISMA is one of the options you can choose in Liberal Studies. It allows you to teach not only in elementary school but also you can choose to teach either math, science or English in middle schools. Learn more.

Liberal Studies

The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies provides students with a multidimensional education in a variety of disciplines. Liberal Studies is one of the largest majors at SDSU and provides a foundation for meeting a wide range of future goals. Many students choose a major in Liberal Studies as undergraduate preparation for subsequent careers in elementary and/or middle school education. Others choose to pursue graduate studies, non-teaching careers in education, and a variety of other career pathways. Learn more.

Math Proficiency Assessment (MPA)

One of 2 assessments you must pass as a pre-major student in Liberal Studies. (The WPA is required by SDSU, while the MPA is specifically required by Liberal Studies.) Learn more.


To matriculate is to become officially enrolled as a student at a college or university.

Middle School Authorization  

See Introductory Subject Matter Authorization (ISMA), above.

Multiple Subject Credential

The Multiple Subject Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to teach all subjects in a self-contained classroom, such as the classrooms in most elementary schools, in grades preschool, K–12, or in classes organized primarily for adults. Learn more.


The option is a 6- to 7-unit block of coursework that you can choose to take based on your interests and professional goals. Option courses will help you meet prerequisites to a credential program or the TESL certificate. Learn more about the option.


The Office of Student Services in the College of Education (EBA 259 / 619-594-6320) is the official advising office for SDSU credential program issues. It is also a place for Liberal Studies students to charge up, relax, print documents, learn about scholarships, COE programs, etc. Pre-major

During your freshman and sophomore years, before you advance to the major, you are in the pre-major phase of the Liberal Studies degree and all of your coursework will be at the lower division level. See Moving from Pre-Major to Major.


The Liberal Studies program expects that all majors will make reasonable academic progress towards the degree. Liberal studies premajors who have completed major preparatory courses, earned 60 units, but have less than a 2.7 may be removed from the premajor and placed in undeclared.

School of Teacher Education (STE)

Liberal Studies is a program of the School of Teacher Education which a department of the SDSU College of Education. Link to STE.


Stands for Special Education. The Special Education option is designed for those who may want to enter the Special Education Credential Program. See the Special Education option page.

Single subject credential

The Single Subject Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to teach the specific subject(s) named on the credential in departmentalized classes, such as those in most middle schools and high schools, in grades preschool, K–12, or in classes organized primarily for adults. Learn more.


See School of Teacher Education.


Stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. (Some school districts across California are offering signing bonuses to prospective middle school teachers in STEM subjects.)

Study abroad requirement

See International Experience Requirement, above.

TESL certificate

Stands for Teaching English as a Second Language (sometimes called TEFL). The TESL certificate prepares educators to teach English to non-English speakers. Learn more.

Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC)

A faculty-led, state-wide, concerted effort to identify the course content for new associate degrees for transfer, which simultaneously award students an associate degree and prepare them for special benefits/guarantees upon transfer to CSU. Learn more.

Writing Proficiency Assessment (WPA)

One of 2 assessments you must pass as a transfer student or pre-major student in Liberal Studies. (The WPA is required by SDSU, while the MPA is specifically required by Liberal Studies.) For more information about the WPA, view the Math Proficiency Assessment page (right column).

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School of Teacher Education

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